The Devils finished their home and home series with the New York Islanders this weekend in a somewhat disappointing way. If there is one thing this series proved was that the Devils are in no short of goaltending. The play of Johan Hedberg and Martin Brodeur kept the Devils in both games. It seemed like time after time the goaltenders were bailing out the defense.
To put it bluntly the defense was awful. It seemed like Michael Grabner was allowed to just walk in whenever he wanted and rip a shot on net. The defense was very hesitant about the moves they were making. They were thinking too much and before they knew it the puck was going the other way on a break away. But alas it was not the defense that would cause the biggest turnover of the game.
Ilya Kovalchuk plays the point on the powerplay. Nothing too out of the ordinary but he is not used to carrying the puck out of the defensive zone. Well this time he got burnt and burnt badly. He got pick pocketed by Grabner and scored what would be the game winning goal. Kovalchuk would admit to taking “all the blame” for the goal.
After that mistake Kovalchuk was a mess. He was not comfortable with the puck, turning it over. Shortly after the goal he had a chance to hammer home a rebound but was caught with a high stick to the cheek thanks to John Tavares. In a frustrated rage Kovalchuk had some rather unpleasant words for the referees that would warrant him a 2 minute minor for unsportsman like conduct.
“I’m not condoning what he did. I think he could’ve channeled it a little different.” DeBoer said on the Kovalchuk penalty.
Neither the defense nor Kovalchuk’s mistakes were even the biggest story of the whole game. The most crucial point in the game would come off the stick (or foot) of Zach Parise with just 5 seconds left in the game.
With the faceoff in the Islander zone Dainius Zubrus managed to get the puck to the crease with Zach Parise crashing the net. The puck goes off Parise’s stick then off Montoya’s pad and then off Parise’s skate to the back of the net. The Prudential Center erupted when the puck crossed the goal line. The play was instantly put under review. After many different angles later, they disallowed the goal claiming that the puck was kicked in with a distinct kicking motion.
“I knew it hit off my skate. I knew it hit off my stick too, but if that’s a kicking motion, then I don’t know.” Parise said later after cooling off.
Coach Peter DeBoer commented on the Parise disallowed goal, “He deserves one and sure it would have been a big boost, but this league doesn’t afford you the time to feel sorry for yourself.”
The whole team should not feel sorry for themselves. In the end it was a rather poor effort by the Devils. They should have been able to get another two points in the standings. Luckily the Devils have a few days off before traveling to Colorado to start a 4 game road trip on Wednesday. This break will only help the team get recomposed because at this point in the season is where teams either rise or fall in the standings and set the tone for the rest of the season.